May 18 – June 22, 2014
LMAKprojects is pleased to present Jonathan Calm’s Chambers, his first solo exhibit with the gallery. The work on display combines photography and video into an installation that explores the harsh, constrictive, even spectral properties of derelict architectural spaces.
The title of the show references a photo series in which Calm manipulates archival pictures of animals in Zoos across America from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. By extracting the animals from the photographs, he confronts the viewer with their cavernous dwellings as a frame of absence, a spectral manifestation of negative space. The transitions from dark to light in the progression of pictures moreover evokes how the invasive illumination of the photographer’s flash caught the animals off guard, and suggests the violation of surveillance within these shadowy enclosures.
The video work further modulates the integration of image and architecture through a sculpture-like stack of TV monitors in the corner of the gallery, which show one of the “Chamber” corners. The effect is reflexive and visceral, inviting contemplation of the setting as a nexus of hard, angled, lined stone and cement surfaces – a material construct of unlikely purity. Commensurately, the audience is drawn in to empathize with the animals’ displacement from their natural environment, and a mirror is held up to the spaces we find ourselves migrating to and inhabiting.
Calm fleshes out physical presence through the abandonment and desolation of living quarters that are no longer (and arguably never were) functional. Select images in the serialized photographs are tinted to match Le Corbusier’s color code and resonate with Modernism’s ill-fated urban planning experiment. The problematic legacy of public housing that grew out of this failure is a key theme in Calm’s work, and in this exhibit he distills its socio-cultural dysfunction into a paradoxically empowering essence.